Background: We have previously reported overexpression of the immunoregulatory protein B7-H3 in colorectal cancer and that nuclear expression predicted poor outcome in colon cancer patients. The present study was performed to examine the prognostic role of B7-H3 in an independent colorectal cancer cohort. Methods: Using tissue microarrays from 731 colorectal cancer patients, tumour B7-H3 expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry. Associations with clinicopathological parameters and patient outcome were investigated. Results: Nuclear expression of B7-H3 in cancer cells was present in 27% of the samples in the total study cohort, while cytoplasmic/membrane and stromal expression was seen in 86% and 77% of the samples, respectively. Nuclear B7-H3 had no prognostic relevance in the complete outcome cohort, neither in colon cancer patients. However, nuclear B7-H3 was significantly associated with reduced recurrence-free survival in TNM stage I colorectal cancer patients. Conclusions: Overexpression of B7-H3 in colorectal cancer was confirmed, but in contrast to previous results, nuclear B7-H3 was not a strong prognostic biomarker in this cohort. The discrepancy might be related to the use of single-core tissue microarrays for detection of the heterogeneously expressed B7-H3, and the role of B7-H3 in colorectal cancer still needs further examination. Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-602) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.